Best Smartphone Accessories

You have the smartphone, now you need accessories for it. The right accessories increase your enjoyment of your smartphone, making it easier to perform tasks and protect it from any danger. The best accessories for you depend on how, where and when you use your smartphone, so think about how much you'll use each accessory before buying it.

Worst-Case Scenario

A smartphone case is like a pocket umbrella. You may not be caught out in the rain for months, but when you are, you'll be glad you were prepared. Even cases that are primarily cosmetic protect your smartphone from normal wear and tear, especially if they include a screen protector. You never know when you'll be in a hurry and jam your keys in the same pocket as your smartphone. For the butter-fingered among us, heavy-duty cases protect your smartphone even if you drop it several feet or it goes for a swim. If you plan to use your smartphone while exercising, buy an armband case for it, so you don't have to put it in your pocket, clip it to your waistband or hold it in your hand.

Tip of Your Finger

The larger your hands, the more annoying it is to work your smartphone efficiently, especially when it comes to typing long sentences on a tiny on-screen keyboard. A stylus solves that issue and has the added benefit of not requiring you to pull off your gloves in winter to operate your smartphone. If you find styluses unwieldy but like the idea of warm hands, pick up a pair of gloves with conductive fabric on the fingertips, so you can use your smartphone's touch screen without pulling off your gloves.

Going Places

If you drive a car, your smartphone's map app can take the place of a standalone GPS unit. "If you plan on using your smartphone for navigation, though, you need a good dashboard or window mount for it," says Mark Frauenfelder, editor in chief of Cool Tools, a blog dedicated to pointing out the best tools available. Navigation apps are well known for being hard on your smartphone's battery life; you'll want to get a car charger for it. If your car stereo is a recent model, you can connect your smartphone to it using Bluetooth; if you have an older sound system, you'll likely need a connector or adapter of some sort to listen to your favorite tunes while on the go.

Extra Juice

Your smartphone is only as good as its battery life. If you can deal with the added weight and bulk, Frauenfelder suggests getting a smartphone case with an extra built-in battery. "I travel to unfamiliar cities a lot," he says, "and being able to access the online map without worrying about a dead phone is worth [it] for me." If you prefer a lightweight smartphone or you have a case already, you have other options, such as portable chargers that operate on AA batteries or pocket batteries you can connect to your smartphone.

Say Cheese

Modern smartphones can take high-quality, attractive photos, but they lack flexibility when compared to full-fledged digital cameras. Bring back some of that flexibility with clip-on lenses. Available lens types include macro, fisheye, telephoto and wide-angle styles. Buy only high-quality lenses, cautions professional photographer Dan Rubin, who regularly shoots with a smartphone and has more than 600,000 Instagram followers. "It’s important to remember that these lenses sit on top of the actual lens of the smartphone, so there will be some loss of light with any of them, as well as potential distortion."

If you're taking photos in low-light conditions or shooting video, both Rubin and Frauenfelder recommend using a tripod to steady your smartphone and avoid blurriness. If you already own a tripod, you can buy a smartphone adapter for it. Combining a tripod with a remote control for your smartphone's camera shutter makes taking selfies and group shots easy.

Listen Up

Whether or not your smartphone came with a free set of earbuds, buying a wireless Bluetooth headset can be a big quality-of-life upgrade, especially if you spend a lot of time making phone calls. If you frequently use your smartphone to listen to music and you care about sound quality, invest in a good pair of headphones. To have the best of both worlds, look for headphones that include a remote control and mic, so you can jump between listening to music and answering phone calls without having to pull off the headphones.

Photo Credits: Samsung

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